HUNTSVILLE - It s been heartbreak city for Sam Houston the past couple of years. All they needed was one more win each of the last two seasons and they would have been National Champions.
Both times they lost to North Dakota State.
But, like the previous two seasons the Bearkats are loaded. Willie Fritz and his staff have cultivated a winning culture and the players have definitely bought into the system. They are arguably the favorites to win the Southland Conference and even go back to the national championship.
But the question is; can they finish the job.
The Bearkats fire power starts with a loaded back field. It seems like Tim Flanders has been in Orange and Blue for the last 10 years. He is the workhorse, arguably one of the best kept secrets in the country. Last year, he carried the ball 288 times for a total of 1,642 yards and 17 touchdowns. Combine him with the always electric Richard Sincere and Sam Houston won t be having trouble scoring any points.
Brian Bell is in the 3rd year as a starter at quarterback. His 2,715 yards passing and 25 touchdowns showed his continued improvement; those numbers should only go up in 2013.
The defense has taken a back seat to the offense the last few years and will have some challenges as they head into the upcoming season. Sam Houston loses the Taylor twins, two of the team s top three tacklers a year ago, Darnell and Darius will be very hard to replace.
However, linebacker and Klein Collins product Jesse Beauchamp, who ranked second on the team with 94 tackles and 4 sacks, is back. Cornerback Bookie Sneed is also returning, looking to improve on his 4 interceptions from last year.
They will be young, but some core leaders should make a huge difference.
The Bearkats open up with Houston Baptist on August 31st in Huntsville. After that, they face Texas A&M in College Station which definitely won t be easy. However, what s important for Sam will be the conference schedule, which, unless they hurt themselves, shouldn t be an issue.
It s that last game in January that seems to be the biggest problem. Let s hope they get another chance. In my opinion they finish the job in 2013.